We all want to have the best garden soil so our plants can grow and thrive. but buying amendments for our soil can become really expensive very quickly. When starting out or trying to stick to a budget you may need to get a bit creative. These are my favorite free ways to improve your garden soil.
Compost is one of the best things you can give your garden to help your plants grow and improve the nutrition of the soil. Compost can be costly and buying a nice tumbler to make your own compost is defiantly not free. But the good news is that you can make your own compost for free using a simple compost or building your own compost bin with items you already have at home.
Our first composter was actually just a large plastic tote with a lid and a few drilled holes. This did a good job of containing the compost and keeping pests out while the food scraps break down into compost for our garden.
Till and sift through your soil
Tiling your soil and removing rocks and decrease is vital for turning an in-ground garden bed into a thriving garden. The soil needs to be broken up from years of sitting and needs to have rocks and trash removed to allow your garden roots to grow freely. Tilling can be done easily with a shovel and rake or by getting a tiller for your garden.
I love coffee. With so much on my plate, I need the pick me up to get through the day. This means we have a lot of coffee grounds to use up in our home. While these can go into the compost we find tomatoes, blueberries, and even salad greens particularly thrive with them tossed directly into the garden. I even dump my coffee into the garden after it has gotten cold and useless.
Most of the time I just toss the eggshells into my compost because I am in a rush. When I have more time I make a point to dry the eggshells and grind them into powder. This egg powder is spread around tomatoes and peppers that are prone to blossom end rot. With this method, we have never had any fruits rot out from lack of calcium.
Water from boiling pasta and potatoes
With the recent food shortages, we are using a lot of pasta, potatoes, and sweet potatoes to bulk up meals without spending a lot of money. When we strain these we place the strainer in a large mixing bowl and take the water out to the garden. The added nutrition helps our plants thrive and nothing goes to waste.
When we score a good deal on bananas we end up with a lot of banana peels. These break down fast directly in the garden and add potassium to the soil. This is a trick often used by gardeners to help their plants’ service pests like aphids and leafminers.
Till old mulch, grass clippings, and leaves into your soil
At the end of the season rake your leaves and grass clippings into your garden beds. Before starting planting for the new season till everything in to add organic matter to improve your soil drainage.
Plant beans and lingams
When you have a garden bed that needs a refresh on the soil planting beans, peas, and other lingams is a great way to fix the nitrogen in your soil while getting a crop you can use to feed your family.
Rotate your crops
Rotating your crops never growing the same thing twice in a row in a single bed is a great way to protect and preserve the quality of your garden soil.
To make it easy rotate your garden bed in a clockwise rotation every year.
My kids love to gather worms from warm summer mud puddles. These worms place themselves in an easy to find spot making it easy for the kids to collect them. When I was a kid we would fill jars with them. Around here we have the kids toss the worms into the garden.
Add stale beer
The morning after a backyard barbecue or summer bonfire leads to a good bit of clean up. Instead of tossing open stale beer down the drain add it to your garden using any of these great ways to use beer in your garden.
Use your animals to improve your soil.
Bedding from backyard chickens make a great addition to your compost.
Rabbit was can be tossed directly into your garden to enrich the soil. The Florida Homesteading groups always talk about trading rabbit poop for gardens. It is quite interesting.
Make your own bone meal.
When cooking meats with bones save the bones and dry them out in the oven. Run these dried bones through your blender or place in a bag and crush them with a hammer. These crushed bones are homemade bone meal and will help you improve your garden soil when you add it.